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What is MACH and Why Are Companies Choosing It?

Neal Prescott

Vice President, Digital Technology, EPAM
Blog

With shifting customer expectations and the need for businesses to pivot more quickly, many companies are reassessing their technology ecosystems and exploring alternative options for increased flexibility. In parallel, there are more software platforms than ever for businesses to choose from. These trends have primed the market for the entry of modern architecture solutions, which we call MACH. 

MACH is not a new invention, but instead a natural progression from platform-centric to technology- and software-centric ecosystems. Let’s delve deeper into how EPAM defines MACH and why many companies are choosing this type of approach for their platforms.

WHAT IS MACH?

Think of MACH as a modular approach to technology architecture that offers flexibility for companies to better meet their customers’ needs. By choosing a more composable architecture, organizations can build their own technology environment tailored to their unique requirements. 

The pillars of MACH are:
API-driven Modularity

Providing loosely-coupled, replaceable components

Cloud-native

Allowing businesses to benefit immediately from service provider innovations

Headless

Decoupled front-end architectures that enable omni-channel

API-driven Modularity

Integrating systems to consume capabilities, APIs have been around for as long as software has existed. Over the past 20 years, the ability to leverage APIs has become simpler with cross-code technology. Thanks to APIs, systems can be built on any technology in an easily understandable language and can pull in capabilities as needed.

The open nature of API-led technology allows platforms to be ‘stacked,’ creating a customized ecosystem that aligns with specific business goals. This gives companies the flexibility to add or replace components as needed, leveraging best-of-breed technologies for their unique requirements—instead of paying for full suites of software that are never fully utilized. For example, a new commerce channel could be added when required, without waiting for future platform upgrades.

APIs also enable the use of microservices to independently build operations and services, breaking down the system into subcomponents, while maintaining the same customer experience from the outside. This enables multiple teams to work on a single system simultaneously. For example, 10 different teams could collaborate on the various functionalities of a website—from content search to checkout—all working in parallel to deploy projects at their own speed. These different components can operate, scale and deploy continuously without the constraints of release schedules.

Cloud-native

It’s been about 15 years since cloud became a commercialized service; most companies now utilize cloud architecture in some form.

In addition to lower operational costs, running your technology in the cloud gives your business access to many services that would otherwise need to be built and operated by an individual or team. Today, companies are moving away from operating their own infrastructure and toward cloud services to lessen complexity. Cloud allows companies to only pay for consumption, making it scalable and eliminating time waiting for upgrades to deploy new features. If you are in the cloud as a consumer of virtual machines or databases, you can also gain access to other features from the cloud provider. As a result, this is where many companies now prefer to run their applications and store their data.

Headless

APIs allow companies to decouple their front- and back-end technologies or go “headless.” As customer touch points increase, this setup makes it possible to add different front-end technologies as needed, such as chatbots, wearables or voice.

A key benefit of headless is agility—businesses can easily prepare for market changes at speed and innovate faster. Companies can experiment, perform A/B testing for new features or release new lines of revenue at will—without risking back-end stability.

The result is improved customer experience. Talent can focus on delivering front-end experiences that bring value to customers, without the distraction of maintaining back-end architectures. 

HOW DO COMPANIES ARRIVE AT MACH?

Generally, companies don’t end up with MACH by looking for it. Often, over the course of time, their technology needs change. Businesses might be due for upgrades but, before recommitting to their current software stack, might want to fully explore alternatives. Other companies may have a specific capability in mind that they want to consider adding to their existing tech stack.

These are some common complaints and pain points that often result in companies turning to MACH:

  • Upgrades to our current system are taking too long
  • We’re missing out on opening new lines of revenue
  • Our current system isn’t flexible enough to add the features we need
  • We’re struggling to keep up with the competition and need to be more agile
  • We’re paying for a huge system, but only using part of it
  • We’re having difficulty integrating a new solution
  • Our IT team doesn’t want to run on old software or programming languages

The solution to the majority of these concerns is either to build your software ecosystem from scratch to meet your needs—which can be cost-prohibitive for some—or implement MACH to give your business the flexibility it needs to be successful. 

HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’RE READY FOR MACH

Depending on your business’s specific needs, your digital ecosystem may end up being more complex with MACH—although the technology footprint can be reduced by leveraging the features that MACH platforms offer. 

With this complexity comes the need for the right people and partners. Is the internal team ready for building and operating microservices, working in the cloud, and adopting infrastructure as code? A legacy team operating on old systems may struggle with the new processes, techniques and ways of working that MACH introduces. 

MACH might answer the most pressing technology challenges—or cost the same as fixing an inoperable system—but it’s not the technology that will rescue the situation. It’s the way MACH is implemented and operated that is the key to success. If done right, MACH can revolutionize your business. 

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